Six Egyptians are to stand trial in Cairo next month on charges of spying for Israel.

The six, including an unnamed diplomat at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv and a prominent businessman in Egypt's tourism industry, stand accused of espionage.

In announcing the arrests, officials at the Egyptian Ministry of Interior said the six helped smuggle Chinese, Russian, and Maldives nationals into Israel and provided unspecified information in exchange for money.

Some of the six were arrested as long as four-months ago, but the officials say the information was withheld while their investigation continued.

All of the defendants are in custody in the northeastern town of al-Arish, near the Israeli border. Their trial will begin December 17 in Cairo.

According to the Ministry of Interior, the leader of the group is a 35-year-old retired women's handball player. Israeli officials have been quoted as saying they are unaware of the incident.

Spying may be punishable by execution in Egypt if the court determines the actions harmed the nation.